All posts tagged: Reviews

Book review – Supreme Whispers: Conversations with Judges of the Supreme Court of India (1980-89)

‘Supreme Whispers’ is the kind of book that is really hard to review. This is because the book is a result of efforts of two different people at two different points in time. George H. Gadbois Jr., a scholar of Indian law and judicial behaviour, conducted over 116 interviews with more than sixty-six judges of the Supreme Court of India, and others like senior lawyers, politicians, relatives of deceased judges and court staff. Gadbois made meticulous records of these interviews in his handwritten notes which he later typed out on a typewriter. Before passing away, he sent these notes to Abhinav Chandrachud, his student and the book’s author, after he had himself extracted a book out of them. The present book is justified by the author citing the fact that he had been granted full freedom towards the use of Gadbois’ notes by the man himself, and that Gadbois’ book barely scratched the surface on a few important details, perhaps due to the time period that it had been written in. It is with these …

Book Review – Warlight By Michael Ondaatje

“We were used to partial stories” Nathaniel, the protagonist of Michael Ondaatje’s seventh novel ‘Warlight’, tells us in the opening pages of this remarkable novel that is part spy novel in the low-key John Le Carre tradition, part coming-of-age story in the post war England. The narrative takes us through the lives Nathaniel, his sister Rachel and their mother, who in many ways is the real protagonist of the novel, just as Andy Dufresne is the protagonist of ‘Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption’ even if the story is told through the eyes of Red. After tracing the path of the family through timelines that cut back and forth, from Rose, the mother’s childhood to Nathaniel’s stint with the secret service, the reader realizes that through this opening line, perhaps the author was also setting expectations. “We were used to partial stories” is an advance warning to the reader to expect an account of deeply felt emotions more than report of events, one where you seek closure instead of resolutions. And yet, nothing in the novel, …

Review: The Educational Heritage of Ancient India – How an Ecosystem of Learning was Laid to Waste by Sahana Singh

Book: The Educational Heritage of Ancient India: How an Ecosystem of Learning was Laid to Waste Author: Sahana Singh During Swami Vivekananda’s 150 Birth Anniversary Celebrations in 2013-14, I happened to have an interaction at a National Institute of Technology. In the course of the same I asked the students an extremely simple question, how many of them were there for the love of studying xyz subjects. To my dismay – not a single hand went up! Further interaction revealed that they had opted for engineering because of various pressures –parents and relatives, peers, etc. An Engineering graduate is held in esteem, said one. Another said, they get better choice in whom they marry and yes, better dowry also. Yet another said it was for the job prospects. Did they love their studies? No, they replied honestly. Suppose the esteem and the money, etc were guaranteed and they  had a choice – what would they opted for, I asked. One said, art, another said music, a third one said teaching, yet another said, innovation, business. …

Urban Naxals – The Making of Buddha In A Traffic Jam

Book: Urban Naxals- The Making of Buddha In A Traffic Jam, by Vivek Agnihotri Author: Vivek Agnihotri Since the beginning of civilization, the favoured method of barbarians out to destroy great civilizations was to destroy their places of learning. Most Mayan writings of the Aztecs were destroyed by Bishop Landa of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Yucatán, while other Catholic priests burned the great Aztec library of Netza Hualcoyotl in Mexico City in the sixteenth century. Pope Gregory the Great ordered the library of Palatine Apollo burned in the late sixth century. The great library of Alexandria, perhaps the greatest library in the western world, was burned at the urging of Christian Bishop Theophilos. The largest library in the world at the time, at Nalanda, which contained an estimated hundreds of thousands of manuscripts, was destroyed by Bakhtiyar Khilji’s hordes in 1193 CE. During the twentieth century, thousands of books were burned by the German Student Union in Nazi Germany in 1933. Things have now changed. Universities, or libraries, are no longer seen as places to …